Whether you’re new to working in nursing homes or simply a new hire at this particular facility, it can be intimidating to settle into a new job. If you’re wondering what you can do to make a good impression on the residents, your coworkers and your supervisor, then follow these eight tips:
Understand the facility policies.
Each nursing home has its own set of rules when it comes to visitors, medications, activities for the elderly and more. Get to know the rules until you understand them like the back of your hand. Since you are new, some residents or families might hope to slip something past you, such as bringing in items that aren’t allowed or having visitors outside of hours, which can put you in a precarious position. If you know the rules, you can politely but firmly refuse to allow exceptions and explain why the guidelines are in place.
Familiarize yourself with the patient care plans.
Perhaps the most important document isn’t the facility guidebook, however — it’s your patient care plans. These plans outline what needs to be done for residents and when, everything from medication schedules to dietary requirements to bathing and dressing. Get to know these care plans in detail and ask your boss or coworkers if you are unsure about something. Care plans are periodically updated, so don’t just memorize them once and then never pay attention to them again. Always double-check in case there have been any updates from the doctor or another specialist.
Get to know the residents.
Nursing home residents are so much more than their patient care charts. They have lived very full lives and have their own personalities. Getting to know your residents shows that you respect them and can make your job easier in the long run. Residents are far less likely to take out their frustrations on you if you have a positive relationship and see each other as people. In many cases, you will be spending more time with the residents than their own families, so it’s not that hard to get to know them. It’s totally okay to maintain professional boundaries, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be completely cold and distant.
Build relationships with your coworkers.
Besides the residents, you should also build relationships with your coworkers, especially those on your shift, as well as your supervisor. You’re part of a care team, but it’s hard to practice teamwork when you don’t know anyone. Just like with the residents, you can keep it professional yet warm with your coworkers. You don’t have to become best friends, but try to keep it cordial and considerate. After all, you never know when you might need them to help you with a sick resident or to cover your shift.
Keep a small notebook on you.
In your first days and weeks, you're going to be taking in a lot of new information and asking a lot of questions. You like won’t be allowed to have your phone on your during a shift, so you can’t type it all down. Instead, carry a small notebook and pen on you that fits in the pocket of your scrubs. Yes, taking notes by hand feels a bit old school, but you definitely won’t be able to remember everything so this is the next best thing. Don’t forget to occasionally look back over your notes to refresh your memory.
Besides getting to know the residents, you’ll also need to get to know the facility itself, such as where the hospital gowns are stored and how the medications are organized. Make it a point to put everything back where it belongs, even when you are short on time. Carefully read the labels on everything before using it. Don’t grab without looking! You may also wish to carry certain supplies, such as gloves, on you during your shift so that you don’t have to waste time running back and forth between the supply closets. Staying organized will make you more efficient and make your job easier as well.
Practice good communication.
Good communication is necessary in just about every job, but it’s notoriously difficult to find in employees. Practicing good communication will make you stand out. This can be as simple as letting your coworkers know that you are clocking out for your break, or telling a resident that you need to step out to grab some adaptive clothing for seniors. People can’t read your mind, so be a little bit proactive and keep them in the loop. Your residents, your coworkers and your supervisor will all appreciate it.
Watch yourself for signs of caregiver burnout.
Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion occasioned by caring for others. It’s common in those who work in nursing homes, hospitals and other situations where they constantly care for others. If you start feeling hopeless and depressed about your job, you might be experiencing caregiver burnout. You might also experience other symptoms before you realize what’s happening, including sleep problems, changes in appetite and stomach aches and headaches with no discernible cause. This often results from not drawing boundaries between your work life and your personal life and not taking care of your own health. You can’t care for others if you’re run down and exhausted, so make sure that you’re getting the rest and recovery that you need.
Getting off on the right foot at your new nursing home doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re a new hire at an assisted living facility, follow these eight tips to get your job started off right.
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